Gary Burden, the Grammy-winning artist who designed iconic album covers for musicians like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the Doors and My Morning Jacket, has died at the age of 84. No cause of death was revealed.
Young penned a tribute to Burden on the rocker’s Archives website, reflecting on a collaboration and friendship that spanned over five decades.
“My friend for life, Gary was my art director, creating album covers with me for almost 50 years, beginning with After the Gold Rush and ending with Paradox and Roxy, my next two albums,” Young wrote.
“I still have some covers for unreleased albums that we made together. They are coming. We probably made 40 covers. I lost count. In the last twenty, thirty or so years, Gary has worked alongside his talented and beautiful wife, Jenice, at R. Twerk & Co, as we have continued on a life-time of making album covers, laughing, loving acoustic music and so many other things. My heart is heavy.”
In the tribute, Young also recounted the creation of his favorite Burden-designed album cover, the photograph that fronts the 1974 album On the Beach. In 2010, Burden and his wife Jenice Heo received the Grammy Award for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Packaging for the massive Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 Box Set.
Burden is also credited with conceiving and designing the iconic images that adorn the Doors’ Morrison Hotel, Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Crosby Stills Nash & Young’s Déjà Vu and dozens of Young LPs, including Tonight’s the Night, Freedom and After the Gold Rush.
“Myself, Graham Nash and a photographer, Joel Bernstein, went down to the Village with Neil to take pictures and Joel shot that shot. It was a magic moment because that little Italian lady was there, going the other way, and he got it at just the right moment,” Burden told the CBC of the After the Gold Rush cover in 2015. “It was a black-and-white shot that I converted to make it look like it was solarized. I also made the lettering look like rust because it’s After the Gold Rush, and what comes after the gold rush? Rust.”
Burden also served as art director on the Eagles’ first four albums including Desperado, Richard Pryor’s 1968 self-titled LP, America’s Homecoming and more recently, My Morning Jacket’s Evil Urges and Conor Oberst’s Salutations. See Burden’s entire discography at the artist’s official site.
The Eagles wrote of Burden in a tribute, “We join with many others in mourning the passing of our friend and collaborator, Gary Burden. Gary designed the covers of our first four albums. He was a unique and talented man, a big-hearted adventurous spirit, a Marine, a fluent Spanish speaker, a masterly raconteur, and a true artist. He made an exceptional and lasting contribution to the art of the vinyl LP album cover and he will be missed. RIP, old friend.”
“I have so many memories of Gary and I doing these album covers. He was a great man and a true artist. Rest in peace my old friend,” Young wrote.